Planning a Successful Volunteer Project

Organizing a volunteer project in your park is one of the best things you can do for your greenspace! However, organizing and executing a workday perfectly is easier said than done. A successful volunteer project is one that is planned early and thoroughly.

Park Pride’s John Ahern leads a workday with the Atlanta Falcons at the Ashby Circle Playlot.

What Can Volunteers Do?

Park volunteers can do almost anything! Some common, FREE project ideas include:

  • mulching
  • litter / trash cleanup
  • invasive plant removal
  • trail construction / maintenance

These projects are invaluable to maintaining the health and beauty of parks!

Corporate volunteers spreading mulch at Ashby Circle Playlot.

More complex and technical projects that can be undertaken by volunteers (though some budget is required) include:

  • erosion control
  • installing park benches
  • building bridges
  • creating community gardens
  • native or ornamental plantings
Corporate volunteers build a bridge at Spink-Collins Park

Approval Process

One of the most time consuming tasks of planning your workday will be acquiring the appropriate approvals needed to see your project through (and most projects WILL require some form of approval). Keep in mind that unfortunately, projects that require municipal assistance or increase maintenance needs are less likely to be approved.

Pro-tip: Do not set a project date before getting your approvals!

The fastest way to success in getting the approvals is to begin the communication early; start with Park Pride – John Ahern  will know what approvals you need and who you should speak to to get those approvals. *Park Pride does not issue the approvals, but we can point you in the right direction!*

It’s also a good idea to get to know your park’s District Manager and chat with them about the proposed project, communicate with your council member/commissioner, and schedule a site visit with John Ahern!

You may, depending on the scale and complexity of your proposed project, have to present your plans to the City of Atlanta Department of Park Design.

Your typical project will require about 2 weeks notice to the Parks Department to receive the approval – for a larger project (like a bench installation, for example) may need up to 3 months!

The main take-away, again, is to start the process early!


Where to Find Volunteers

After you’ve received your park project’s approval, you can set a date for your volunteer project and find volunteers!

Start within your community. Post your project description in neighborhood newsletters, email groups, message boards (digital and physical!), or yard signs. Tap into neighborhood organizations such as businesses, schools, or faith groups. Universities are also great places to find large volunteer groups, and many campuses have volunteer departments. Think Volunteer Emory, Team Buzz, and others.

For larger groups, make sure you have enough tasks planned out to keep everyone engaged. Breaking the group into smaller teams and appointing and training leaders beforehand are great ways to make sure that your volunteers stay on-task to complete the project!

Park Pride is also available to help you plan to have a corporate group come to your park.

Turner Foundation volunteers at Briarwood Park.
Community volunteers at Freedom Park.

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